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Why Is There No Collective Term for Nieces and Nephews?

I have one niece and one nephew. Why is there no word in the English language that would allow for me to refer to them together?

If you have a brother (or brothers) and a sister (or sisters), you can call them your siblings. If you have a mom and a dad, you can call them your parents. There’s lots of words to refer to your son(s) and daughter(s) collectively – they can be called your children, your kids, your offspring, your progeny, or your spawn1. But there’s nothing for “nieces and nephews”2!

I went to the all-knowing Google with this important question, and it turns out that (a) I’m not the only person pondering this deficiency of the English language, and (b) there’s been a word coined for this, though it doesn’t seem to have yet caught on: “niblings” (based on “sibling”).

I can’t decide if I like this word. I mean, it conveniently sums up what I want to sum up – a collection of at least one niece and one nephew – but it also sounds like you want to have them for a snack. Thoughts?

  1. Apparently you can also call them your scions (thank you, thesaurus!), but I’m pretty sure if you did no one would know what the hell you were talking about! []
  2. Similarly, there’s no collective word for “aunts and uncles”. []

29 Responses to Why Is There No Collective Term for Nieces and Nephews?

  1. Kalev says:

    I would go with “nions” because at least then it doesn’t sound like you live in a gingerbread house waiting to feast on children.

  2. Lynn Griffin says:

    Unfortunately, the English language is far from perfect e.g. the i before e except after c rule has only about 93 words that follow that rule but there are about 243 words that are exceptions to that rule – go figure – but I digress. There is not a collective term for nieces and nephews except for neflings in German and sobrinos in Spanish. A niece also referred to an illegitimate child of clegymen but that is skirting the land of creepy way too much. You could use clan, kin, or tribe – the urban dictionary is trying to have niblings used but that is smacking of cannibalism (to my way of thinking). As nieces and nephews or aunts and uncles do not appear to have a collective English term you could use a generic term of “my family network”. That would seem to be a bit more appropriate given the 21st century we’re now in and contact is more online than face to face.

  3. Yeah, I really don’t like the term niblings… [shudders]

    How about sibsprings? For “siblings’ offspring”? Sibspawn? Sibeny?

  4. Ooh and aunts and uncles could be pareblings, for “parents’ siblings”

    • Eleanor Doming says:

      very funny..i have no idea about that “PAREblings” = parents siblings. good idea! but will websters,mirriam dictionary or thesaurus etc accept that term??

  5. Easiest solution? My sister’s kids. 🙂

    “My niece and nephew” isn’t THAT bad. I mean, not that I have that issue (or ever will with my only child status) but for my Mom – she has a blend of nieces and a nephew across families so often ends up referring to “my sister’s girls” or “my brother’s kids”.

  6. Beth says:

    But what if you have multiple siblings and want to collectively refer to their many kids? Then you have to say “my sisters’ and brothers’ kids” – it gets clunky to say.

    The question came up when someone was referring to their 2 sisters’ kids: 3 nieces, 1 nephew, and one sister is pregnant with a girl and the other is pregnant but doesn’t yet know the sex of the fetus. And we were all “your nieces and nephew… and another one… um, why isn’t there just a word for this?”. He could say just “my sisters’ kids”, for sure, but… I still would prefer a word for it!

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  8. Neil Brosnan says:

    Hi, Beth,

    I’v been using ‘sibspring’ as a collective gender neutral term for my nieces and nephews since January last.
    As yet, there have been no complaints!

    Neil

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  10. KatW says:

    There really should be a word for this! My brothers and sister have kids so it would be nice to have one word to explain “their kids”. My sibling’s kid’s. Two words I guess. I like nibblings. They are cute and nibble-able 🙂 And they got bling!

  11. Kelly says:

    I refer to my two nephews and 1 niece as my En’s or the Ens. Essentially the plural of “N”.

  12. Beth says:

    Lol! That’s pretty clever!

  13. Josh says:

    I’ve wondered this myself. The term “nibling” has cropped up here and there, but I’ve yet to find it in a credible dictionary.

  14. Mike says:

    Niece and Nephew both have an E sound, albeit one short and one long. So let’s tweak it and call them Neblings. Southerners can pronounce it Neeeblings. When you have different pronunciations it makes it more official 🙂

  15. John says:

    I prefer the word “sibren”, “siblings children” put together.

  16. Sarah says:

    ‘Nibling’ was coined in the 1950s for this purpose!

  17. Tammy says:

    I call mine “the spawn”

  18. Matthew Valentin says:

    Alright, thats dumb. Take the latin root for nephew/niece, add a neuter ending. For plural, add an s.

    Nephis, Nephises.

  19. Jim says:

    Technically I believe they are siblings once removed. Collectively, aunts and uncles could be referred to as cousins once removed.

    • Beth says:

      Aunts and uncles aren’t cousins once removed. Cousins once removed are either your parent’s cousin, or your cousin’s child. Your aunts and uncles are your parents’ siblings, not your parents’ cousins.

      I suppose following that logic, you could call your nieces and nephews “siblings once removed”, but it seems weird because you don’t think of your sibling’s kid as a sibling. Plus, it’s not really easier to say that “nieces and nephews”!

  20. Matt Karl says:

    Anyone like niephs? (That’s the first three letters of niece, overlapped with the 2nd-4th letters of nephew, and then pluralized.)

  21. Beth says:

    How would you pronounce “niephs”? Nee-fs?

  22. Matt Karl says:

    Yes.
    But I have to admit that of all the suggestions so far, like “niblings” best.

  23. Laura says:

    I finally have this problem and my husband and I think we’re going with kiddiekins.

  24. Adam Hamilton says:

    We use Niephew (& Niephews) we aren’t likely to stop. @Sarah ‘Am interested in the medium of the instance of the 1950s coinage. Historicity makes legitimacy in my use of English. Neologism is just to fast and frenzied and flybynight otherwise.

  25. April says:

    I’m thinking sibens or sildren (siblings’ children…rolls off of the English tongue a little better) for the collective niece/nephew.
    Paribs (Parents’ siblings) for collective aunts/uncles.

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